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Harbhajan Singh has made an unexpected contribution to Zimbabwe cricket after a chance meeting with Heath Streak and Alistair Campbell in the West Indies. Harbhajan was shocked at the state of the kit used by some of the Zimbabwean players at the recent World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, and after returning to India, used his contacts to organise new kit for the team.
“It was sad to hear Zimbabwe didn’t have sponsors to fund even the basic equipment for the sport,” he told the Mumbai Mirror. “But I was shocked to find the kind of cricket gear they were using in the West Indies. Some of their top-order batsmen carried the type of bats usually used in school cricket. I couldn’t believe it and asked how they were playing with such kit in a tournament as big as the World Cup.
“When I saw those school bats I realised how lucky we Indians were. I remembered my under-16 days in Jalandhar. All I had was a pair of Ace shoes in my bag. That was the world for me. It was only when I enrolled myself in the Punjab academy that I got a proper cricket gear.
“On return, I spoke with some of my friends,” he explained. “I was keen they have the right shoes, the right bats required at the highest level. Reebok volunteered to help and so did KG Sports. I also approached a friend of mine who works with ANM Sports. These three firms have been extremely supportive. I think the kits have already reached Zimbabwe by now.”
Alan Butcher, Zimbabwe's new coach, has also expressed concerns over the quality of equipment – particularly bats – used by the national side, and highlighted that as one area that needs to be addressed. Harbhajan's contribution will go some way towards helping the problem.